Skinner to Lead Young U.S. Team at Gymnix

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Katelyn Jong, Kaliya Lincoln, Konnor McClain, Skye Blakely, Emily Lee, Faith Torrez, MyKayla Skinner, and Lilly Lippeatt

At a U.S. national team selection camp just wrapping up in Indianapolis, the staff added some additional names to the senior and junior national teams, and also named the group of eight gymnasts who will travel to Montreal this weekend to compete at International Gymnix.

MyKayla Skinner, a world medalist and Olympic alternate, will lead a team of young gymnasts in the first competitive international assignment of her comeback after serving as the worlds alternate in 2019. Skinner will be joined by Emily Lee and Faith Torrez, both of whom were invited to last year’s worlds selection camp and are making their international debuts here, as well as first-year senior Lilly Lippeatt, who will compete at Gymnix for the third year in a row after making her debut there with her club in 2018 before representing the U.S. as a junior last year.

This year’s junior team will be led by 2019 junior world championships medalist Skye Blakely and junior worlds alternate Konnor McClain, last year’s junior national silver all-around medalist. Kaliya Lincoln, who competed at the U.S. Classic last summer, and Katelyn Jong, who finished third all-around at Hopes Championships last year before getting her elite qualifying score at Metroplex this year, will also compete in the junior division, and were added to the national team based on their performances at this camp.

Other juniors added to the national team include Love Birt and Katelyn Rosen, while Shilese Jones gained a spot on the senior team. Though USA Gymnastics has decided to withdraw from competing at the City of Jesolo Trophy in April due to concerns related to the coronavirus outbreak, they will instead provide the gymnasts named to the Jesolo team with a “competitive opportunity at the national team training center” that same weekend, with Jones, Sophia Butler, Kara Eaker, and Leanne Wong on the senior team, and Birt, Jong, Lincoln, and Rosen on the junior team.

In addition to the United States, the Gymnix roster will feature teams from Australia, Belgium, and Canada in the senior and junior cups, with Germany sending a team to the junior cup as well. Japan and Romania, originally expected to compete, are not on the final list of participants.

Belgium should have a pretty tough-to-beat team here, with the veteran gymnasts – Nina Derwael, Axelle Klinckaert, and Senna Deriks – not taking part, while three-time world championships competitor Maellyse Brassart will take charge as the leader of this young team.

Also competing are 2019 worlds team members Jade Vansteenkiste and Margaux Daveloose, as well as 2019 European Championships competitor Fien Enghels, and first-year seniors Stacy Bertrandt and Lisa Vaelen, both of whom competed at junior world championships last summer. With only four per team at this competition, it hasn’t yet been decided which four will compete for Belgium and which two will compete as individuals, but either way, it’s a super talented young team, and all six gymnasts are on Belgium’s training squad for Tokyo, which also includes Derwael, Klinckaert, Deriks, Noemie Louon, and Julie Vandamme.

Jutta Verkest leads the junior squad for Belgium, with Charlotte Beydts, Margaux Dandois, Keziah Langendock, and Zsofi Verleden also on the team.

Canada has three senior teams here, with the top team – featuring Ana Padurariu, Isabela Onyshko, Victoria-Kayen Woo, and Audrey Rousseau – likely to put up a big fight here. “Canada 2” includes Laurie Denommee, Quinn Skrupa, Sophie Marois, and Rose-Kaying Woo, while “Canada 3” includes Rachael Riley, Leah Tindale, Mia Saint-Pierre, and Jessica Dowling.

The junior team for Canada is an excellent one, with Elite Canada champion Maya Zonneveld and runner-up Cassie Lee lending their clean, consistent gymnastics to the competition, while Ava Stewart and Bailey Inglis – young teammates of Padurariu – will join them with incredibly difficult routines on bars and beam.

For Australia, we’ll see Romi Brown, Talia Folino, Kate McDonald, and Breanna Scott compete as seniors, with Scott recently making her international debut at the Melbourne World Cup, where she earned a spot in the floor final, while Miriana Perkins and Sidney Stephens will compete as individuals. The junior team includes Miella Brown, Olena Edmeades, Ruby Pass, and Lucy Stewart.

The German junior team is a mostly young and inexperienced one, and includes Julia Dumrath, Ana Lena Koenig, Meolie Jauch, and Pia Meier.

In addition to the senior and junior cups, International Gymnix also features a Challenge session, which includes gymnasts from federations not invited to send full teams, as well as gymnasts who can register to represent their clubs. We’ll mostly see Canadians in these sessions, with a few young U.S. gymnasts also expected to attend, while gymnasts representing international programs include Paola Barahona of El Salvador, Ilka Juk of Hungary, Karla Rivera of Mexico, Berta Pujadas and Claudia Villalba of Spain, and Chloe Sallaris, Charlotte Shin, and Sumer Daly of Australia.

The competition begins with the Senior International Cup at 7 pm ET on Friday, March 6, while the two challenge sessions will be held Saturday morning and afternoon, and the Junior International Cup will take place that evening. All international finals for seniors, juniors, and challenge participants will take place on Sunday at 2 pm ET. All sessions will stream live here, for free.

A full list of competitors is below.

SENIOR CUP
Australia
Romi Brown
Talia Folino
Kate McDonald
Breanna Scott
Belgium
Stacy Bertrandt
Maellyse Brassart
Margaux Daveloose
Fien Enghels
Lisa Vaelen
Jade Vansteenkiste
Canada 1
Isabela Onyshko
Ana Padurariu
Audrey Rousseau
Victoria-Kayen Woo
Canada 2
Laurie Denommée
Sophie Marois
Quinn Skrupa
Rose-Kaying Woo
Canada 3
Jessica Dowling
Rachael Riley
Mia Saint-Pierre
Leah Tindale
United States
Emily Lee
Lilly Lippeatt
MyKayla Skinner
Faith Torrez
Individuals
Miriana Perkins (Australia)
Sidney Stephens (Australia)
JUNIOR CUP
Australia
Miella Brown
Olena Edmedes
Ruby Pass
Lucy Stewart
Belgium
Charlotte Beydts
Margaux Dandois
Keziah Langendock
Jutta Verkest
Zsofi Verleden
Canada
Bailey Inglis
Cassie Lee
Ava Stewart
Maya Zonneveld
Germany
Julia Dumrath
Meolie Jauch
Anna-Lena König
Pia Meier
United States
Skye Blakely
Katelyn Jong
Kaliya Lincoln
Konnor McClain
CHALLENGE
Olivia Ahern (Believe)
Paola Barahona (El Salvador)
Charlie-Ann Barbeau (Equilibrix)
Sloane Blakely (WOGA)
Kyra Cato (Calgary)
Chloe Cho (Gymjam)
Zoe Cotnoir (Laval Excellence)
Sumer Daly (Australia)
Marisa De Groot (Calgary)
Maelle Delourmel (Gymnix)
Jordis Eichman (Colorado Aerials)
Jordyn Ewing (Halifax ALTA)
Rebeka Groulx (Gym Richelieu)
Makenna Guidish (Flip City)
Piper Johnson (Calgary)
Amy Jorgensen (Saskatchewan)
Ilka Juk (Hungary)
Okeri Katjivari (Brandon Eagles)
Alonna Kratzer (Top Notch)
Jenna Lalonde (Ottawa)
Kahlyn Lawson (Wimgym)
Natasha Lopez (Futures)
Valerie Menezes (Gymnacentre)
Rylee Miller (Saskatchewan)
Marie Millette (Saskatchewan)
Chelsea Murray (Wimgym)
Imogen Paterson (Flicka)
Kiora Peart-Williams (Futures)
Amanda Pedicelli (Equilibrix)
Maya Peters (Manjak’s)
Cassia Priels (Charleroi)
Berta Pujadas (Spain)
Jovie Richardson (Bluewater)
Karla Rivera (Mexico)
Chloe Sallaris (Australia)
Jenna Sartoretto (Futures)
Charlotte Shin (Australia)
Ashlee Sullivan (WOGA)
Virginie Therrien (Gadbois)
Jenna Timmons (Calgary)
Aurelie Tran (Gymnix)
Alexa Tucker (Dynamo)
Sydney Turner (TAG)
Claudia Villalba (Spain)
Kiera Wai (Manjak’s)
Emily Walker (Saskatchewan)
Alicia Wendland (Revolution)
Jada Yip-Janniere (Oakville)
Saki Yoshida (Gadbois)

Article by Lauren Hopkins

48 thoughts on “Skinner to Lead Young U.S. Team at Gymnix

    • Yup! I know the reasoning behind this but can’t say publicly but I’ll just say yes, and now that the U.S. is no longer going to Jesolo, this is mostly about getting her in front of a very specific judge who will be at Gymnix.

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      • hmm, a very specific judge at gymnix? I hope that’s THE only reason? i just hope they are not demoting skinner down to the B level because she’s definitely not a B level gymnast . Unless she has somehow deteriorated? ;(

        Yeah that’s really sucks theyre not going to jesolo…. I guess there’s still pan am left but that means there is only very limited numbers of international opportunities left ;(

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        • I spent the weekend at her gym two weeks ago. She has absolutely NOT deteriorated lol. She was doing full routines with no falls on every event, AND has big upgrades. A certain someone from the national program visited her gym the day before I was there as well. She’s 100% in the mix for Tokyo, and there’s a specific reason they want her in front of this specific judge at Gymnix. If there was one more world cup AA spot available, it would’ve been MyKayla’s (and she’s the alternate for the current world cup spots). The “A team” in the eyes of the national program right now is Simone, Morgan, Grace, Sunisa, Kayla, MyKayla, and Jade, and if they had to choose the Olympic team right now, these are the gymnasts who would be in top contention (minus Jade doing her own thing).

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        • So morgan has improved and got out of the lull that she was in last year?

          Thats too bad riley seems to be going more toward ncaa if not quite officially yet

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        • I don’t think Morgan was really in a lull last year, I think she just happened to have mistakes when it counted. She’s done something like 25 bar routines in competition since she started her senior career in 2017, and she fell exactly once – at the worlds selection camp, which kept her from making the team. She’s the only U.S. gymnast to not fall on beam at worlds this quad. She made some weird mistakes on floor at two competitions last year. That’s really all that went on with her, though it looked worse than it was because the competition is so tight at the top in terms of everyone being capable of scoring more or less the same. Like, I think Morgan is a stronger all-arounder than Jade, but Jade consistently got a leg-up over Morgan because of Morgan’s weird mistakes. I don’t think it was even a mental thing for Morgan…I think she just happened to have mistakes, which happen, but on a team with scores this close, one mistake can take you from a leading contender to completely out of the running. I still think she should’ve been on the worlds team last year over Grace.

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        • Thanks for the vid on mykayla.. Cant wait ti see yr piece on her! I really want to see her in top 4 AA because the spot would be hers this time

          Hope every sr on the team gets some kind of international experience

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  1. Where will US go now that they pulled out of Jesolo? I heard there was another team selected with Kara, Leanne, Shilese, and Sophia Butler that was supposed to go to Jesolo but has been reassigned to some other competition.

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    • They’re doing a “competitive experience” at the national team training center. I’m guessing they’ll invite some people from the gym to watch, maybe invite another country (Canada I’d guess) as their competition, probably a small friendly meet that they can throw together quickly and easily.

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      • To replace a major international competition like Jesolo? That seems odd Especially with the kind of international experience Leanne and Kara have. Are there no more international meets coming up they could attend?

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        • Nothing with a real team component, which is the point of sending the gymnasts to international competitions…it’s not about Jesolo being a “big” or “prestigious” meet, but more that there was a team component to it, and if they can replicate that with a smaller friendly meet, it’ll suffice! There are no other international competitions that work prior to the domestic season begins, with the exception of Pac Rims and Pan Ams, both of which are still going to have teams, and the teams for these will likely be selected partly based on results from the world cups, Gymnix, and this Indianapolis friendly meet…but in terms of smaller team-oriented international meets like Jesolo and Gymnix, there’s nothing.

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    • They always have three…I’d guess since they’re the host and since there aren’t often many senior teams that end up competing, they have the room and let them bring as many as they want!

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        • Yeah, that’s what I was thinking…typically it’s not allowed which is why Belgium has to have four on the team and then separate “individual” competitors but obviously Canada is allowed to do it, so I’m sure because of this special circumstance if the U.S. asked for an extra team they likely would’ve been able to do it?

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  2. I am surprised that Leanne Wong and Kara Eaker aren’t on the top list for making Tokyo. I had so much hope for Leanne Wong when she won American Cup and I just love Kara Eaker. Hopefully, they can stick with it after the Olympics and make World Championships teams. Hey, they might even make the Olympics if some get injured. I am surprised at Kayla DiCellio… is she that good? I kinda don’t get it.

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    • I think they’re both still up there, but just not in the very top group based on how they look at the moment (and based on Kara’s struggles with her SV on beam). I think they’re both absolutely in a position to make alternate if not the team…but you never know what will happen in the coming months! Leanne could get an Amanar and start knocking her floor routines out of the park, which could put her at Suni-levels of scoring potential, and Kara could get a killer ringless beam routine that could make her a top contender. As for Kayla, I think she’s just another Grace in a way where she’s solid at everything but doesn’t have a real standout event. Those kinds of gymnasts kinda fly under the radar for me, and I’m not like squealing about them or anything, but Kayla’s suuuuper solid, she has a gorgeous DTY and overall insanely clean execution on everything, and is really consistent, so I can see her finding herself among the top gymnasts going into Tokyo selection just because she’s going to be able to outscore some of those who might be a little more exciting but just not quite as clean or consistent.

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    • Unless I missed an entire year and January camp, Leanne is certainly ahead of Morgan, as is Riley. I’ve seen three amanar’s from Leanne, all stuck. I haven’t seen anything from Riley in several months, so maybe something’s changed with her? But, honestly, I’m very confused by the idea that anyone will be Tokyo bound that can’t score high enough to qualify for an event final or pull off top 3 AA in a domestic meet.

      Simone, Suni, Jade, Kara, Riley, MyKayla all have event final routines, assuming they don’t get 2 per’d out. That’s already six athletes. AA is all over the board whether people hit or miss, but I’d definitely have Grace and Leanne at the top of those not already listed with Kayla and Morgan shortly thereafter, but definitely after. I’m hoping the best for Morgan and can’t wait to see her back in the American Cup.

      It’s going to be an exciting five months!

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  3. Lauren, I’m curious to hear what you think of Riley and how she could fit into this equation. Obviously 3 months at Arizona Sunrays won’t impact her routines or technique all that much but what do you think is her big picture moving forward?

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    • There was a newscaster surveying camp last month and said that she was nursing a leg injury that was delaying her floor routines and making vault landings difficult.

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  4. Was interesting looking at the active FIG licenses to see who they might send before they officially announced the teams!

    [Side note: When I was looking at the FIG site, there’s one name on the list that had a license that I can’t figure out particularly why. There’s a gymnast listed named Alexandra Beardsley (born 2003) and the only US gymnast by that name appears to be a Level 8 (as in, has results as recent as late Feb 2020). Hmmm.]

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  5. Wow will certainly miss Canadian Junior Clara Raposo. Amazing skill and so entertaining every event. Hope she is back competing soon.

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    • It’s nothing like super juicy or anything but they basically want to make sure things get credited and this judge would be the one to have the final say about that at the Olympics!

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      • Hmm.. Sounds to me like balance beam related?

        Theres never really question about mykayla vt or fx… Bars connections and routines usually straightforward… So i can imagine most likely beam related? Lol i hope we are not trying anything iffy kara like… Also see weiber beam routine….Lol

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        • It’s vault! Specifically for her Cheng. She’s really blocking with her hand down now, but she pulls it up really fast because of the direction she twists. They looked at videos of the other Cheng vaulters, who all twist the other direction so they don’t have that problem, but the way MyKayla twists is something she’s been doing basically forever, and too late to change that, so she has to really practice putting her hand down and then pulling it up and making people know that’s what’s happening. So in Canada, they’ll be able to find out if it’s going to be credited without getting the 2 point penalty for not touching with both hands!

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        • Hmm, not quite follow what you say about the direction of twist. I went back and look at skinner jan 2020 “two hand” cheng as well as 2019 trial and simone 2019 national as well as shallon olsen 2019 worlds. They all seem to face the same direction just right before they touch the table.

          As far as the block. i mean she does have the required number of degree of turn in preflight before touching the table and also touching the table with both hands and then have the required number of twists post flight. I can’t see how you can really not credit it.

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        • Usually for the Chengs we’ve seen, the gymnast does the pre-flight in one direction, and then continues twisting in that direction when she blocks off the table. MyKayla, meanwhile, changes direction between her pre- and post-flight, so the technique is a little different. It’s a preference gymnasts learn early on, so they can’t really change it at this point, and so the focus is instead on making sure that hand absolutely blocks off the table before she pulls it up into her post-flight.

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        • lol sorry lauren, i am still a little confused. It looks to me like the direction she faces just immediately before touching the table is to the right (looking from the vaulter perspective runniing toward the table). and then after touching the table, she faces the left. Simone does the same. So i am a little confused about what you mean by changing in direction between pre and post flight. I played several video on youtube at 0.25 speed.

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        • This was according to one of MyKayla’s coaches, so maybe they didn’t realize Simone also turns that way? I personally haven’t looked into it and am just going by what they said. I think the difference with Simone, though, is that she gets so much air, she waits to twist a solid second after leaving the table, whereas MyKayla, who doesn’t get as much height, starts twisting pretty quickly so that could’ve been the difference they meant if referring to her vs. Simone. But in general he specifically mentioned the change in the twist off the table being what makes it difficult for her because she has to show that she’s actually blocking on both hands.

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        • I def agree with you right there after reviewing the vids. skinner started twisting right after she touches the table whether as biles starts twisting after she starts the post flight flip. And if you have to start twisting immediately then you have to bring your hands in to start the twist.

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        • I also notice that downie doesn’t twist until after the flip start. olsen doesn’t even complete the 180 degree preflight on several of her vt.

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    • Her Cheng was given here:
      In Quals: 6.0D 8.6E = 14.6
      In Finals: 5.4D, 8.833E = 14.233

      TBH she needs a 15ish on VT, 14ish on FX, 13+ on UB & BB to make the team. I think she can do that.

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      • So now that MyKayla’s coach has said it on Twitter, I can say that they were planning on competing for the first time this season at Jesolo, and she was going to travel to Milwaukee as the American Cup alternate for the U.S. gymnasts. MyKayla had already been named to the team (though the U.S. hadn’t announced the team yet, it was already set) and the plan was to get her in front of Donatella Sacchi so she could see what the head of the WTC would credit and not credit. With Jesolo out, they last-minute switched her to the Gymnix team because Donatella was also expected to be there (I don’t know if she actually was, but that was the plan). Given that she had to jump up her preparation for competition by five full weeks, I think she had a super promising outing, especially in EFs. There’s still work to be done, but it was clear that Friday night’s performance was more about nerves that come with being five weeks behind on your competitive preparation than anything else. She was on fire when I saw her in the gym, but she was mostly working PIECES of routines, not full routines (aside from beam, where she was literally just busting out hit routine after hit routine). That was just three weeks ago that she was doing partial routines, so to jump from that to full routines in an international competition in that amount of time is NUTS. She’ll get the Cheng to a good enough place by summer, she’s already showing that she can get to a 14 on floor, and her bars and beam will consistently be 13+ if she’s hitting. I think she’s absolutely in the mix, and even though Friday was rough, nerves do that to you and she proved herself with coming back like a BAMF today!

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  6. On a side note, I’m shocked at how small Skinner is in comparison to some of the juniors! Haha, I keep forgetting that not everyone in their 20s is as tall as myself

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    • I think MyKayla is actually slightly shorter than me, and I’m 5 feet exactly! I just saw the photo of them all arriving at Gymnix and love that Lilly is basically the same size as MyKayla, and that some of the juniors are taller.

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  7. Did you tell Skinner to point her toes when she flips the way she points them when she twists? She flips like she is wearing sandals. Her flips would be so much cleaner if she would point her dayum toes! Her feet and legs are together, it would be sooo clean! Her pak on bars is a mess. Again a flexed feet flipper! Her bent legs on her beam series, her flexed feet when she flips. I just saw her gymnix training. A utter mess!

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